April 2, 2022

Dear Members of the Trinity Community,

Yesterday was a difficult day, indeed, one of the most difficult days of my presidency. Early yesterday morning, I received the call that every college president dreads, the call telling me that one of my students had passed away. Jillian Hegarty was special. And to lose her—a student, a classmate, a daughter, a teammate, a friend—at such a young age and in such a tragic fashion is heartbreaking. There is no other way to describe it.

This tragedy did reveal to all of us just how precious life is, and how important our responsibility to care for each other is. And as we move through the next days, weeks, and months, we can share the sadness of the moment, comfort one another, and support our community as we try to heal.

Yesterday, I noticed a deep sense of caring in the faces of everyone that I saw. I saw it in the faces of the staff who worked all through the night caring for students and families. In Mather, I saw it in our students, some of whom had been at the scene of the accident. I saw it in a faculty member who decided to attend the afternoon Chapel service together with her class. I saw it in the line of people extending along the full length of the Long Walk waiting to grieve together at the Chapel service, and in everyone in our community who has stepped forward to do what they could to ease the pain of this moment, if only in the slightest way.

If we remember this deep sense of caring for each other, we will make it through this horrific tragedy stronger as a community. This will be our legacy to Jillian.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience